Australian beauty queen and model Jennifer Hawkins appears nude and un-Photoshopped on the February cover of Marie Claire magazine. According to Hawkins, the photo shoot is meant to inspire confidence in women and raise money for an eating disorder support organization. Though her heart may be in the right place, Hawkins’ cover shoot just is doing the opposite of what she intended.
Not only is Hawkins conventionally beautiful (thin, white, blond, able-bodied, and a professional model) but the photo shoot appears to be all about flaws as opposed to promoting natural beauty. The motivation behind it was a reader poll that showed only 12% of women were happy with their bodies. Hawkins claims that she herself is unhappy with her body and that she dislikes her thighs and is “not a stick figure.” How is a conversation like that helping to change negative body images?
In the following video, even more attention is given to Hawkins’s “flaws.” It’s as if the message here is supposed to be, “OMG can you believe she would do this cover without airbrushing? She’s a monster! P.S. You should feel good about yourself even though you aren’t even a Miss Universe winner like she is.”
To me, Hawkins looks like many other high-profile cover models, airbrushed or not. That doesn’t mean that she is wrong to speak out about body image issues and eating disorders, just that maybe she isn’t the ideal poster woman for this campaign (especially if she continues to focus on the negative when it comes to her own body). After all, seeing her without any touch ups just isn’t all that shocking. This cover just came out yesterday, but already many of the reactions have been less-than-stellar. Says one Marie Claire commenter: “She wants to make [women] feel more comfortable about how they look, gee thanks, I now feel worse! I’m a size 10 and I still have more rolls than her!”
This feels somewhat akin to those conversations you (or at least I) have been having since high school, where friends who are waaaay skinnier than you talk constantly about how they need to go on stricter diets because they are huge fatasses. While they may honestly believe they need to lose weight and you may honestly believe you don’t, the interaction just leaves all parties involved feeling worse about themselves (Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere has a great section on these types of conversations, btw).
While it’s great that many fashion publications are waking up and smelling the we-don’t-like-Photoshop coffee as of late, this particular cover may not be a step in the right direction. What do you think?